Locked in constant disagreements over several issues, Mamata Banerjee and Amit Shah will be locking horns in the coming week in Kolkata when the combative BJP president lands in the city to hold a rally against the Trinamool Congress government and seek an Assam-like National Register of Citizens (NRC) in West Bengal. Upping the ante on the issue of alleged presence of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in West Bengal. Shah will take the battle to Mamata’s turf with a rally in Kolkata on 11 August amid indications from his party leaders that they will make it a poll issue.
With Mamata holding talks in the National Capital with Opposition leaders to take on the BJP over the NRC in Assam, Shah’s proposed rally underscores his intention to build the issue as a major poll plank in Bengal as Lok Sabha elections are barely eight months away, leaders were quoted as saying. A defiant Shah told reporters that he would definitely go to Kolkata on August 11 and dared the Mamata Banerjee government to arrest him after his party leaders claimed that the local police had yet not given permission to his event.
However, the Kolkata Police later said it had granted the permission, setting the stage for a showdown between the Trinamool Congress, the dominant political force in the state, and the BJP, which has emerged in recent polls as the main challenger to it but remains a distant second.
Reports said that Trinamool Congress would send a six-member team of MPs to Bengali-dominated Silchar in south Assam’s Barak Valley on Thursday to take stock of situation since the final draft of the NRC was released on Monday. The Telegraph quoted Mamata as saying that the NRC exercise was targeted at those with Bengali surnames and would lead to a “civil war”. The TMC delegation is expected to land in Silchar at around 2 pm on Thursday. The team will also go to Guwahati on Friday. In Guwahati, it is likely to meet some intellectuals and eminent citizens on Friday afternoon.